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When talking about human error, operators are usually considered to be the main factor. Humans, however, have a much greater influence due to "Resident errors" in the engineering system. These errors have very serious implications and should be investigated in great detail when considering reliability and safety.

These resident errors will wait in the system and not show until some event, during operation, triggers them.


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A lot of accidents occur during unusual operation such as start-up, shut-down, maintenance, or testing. The resident errors remain the same but unsteady conditions increase the number of local triggers present. Collecting data has allowed theorists to categorise errors and use this information to provide clues as to the processes involved in routine human action Reason [10].

For practical application it is important to understand the errors personnel are likely to make.

Steps can be taken to eliminate them or, if this is not possible, to minimise the consequences. Humans can make errors at any time. The lack of precision in physical work or inappropriate timing of actions that all people show at sometime means that something unpredictable will happen Human reliability associates [11]. A lot of design work assumes good engineering practice will be followed by all humans with any influence to the system.

The problem is that this cannot be guaranteed. Human performance depends on a lot of factors which means they perform differently in different situations. Lee et. These factors should be taken into account when considering safety. What is the possibility that good engineering practice will not be followed? Stress is the demand placed on a persons physical or mental energy. It effects the way people react and is important when considering human performance and reliability. It can cause errors and effect the response to incidents when they occur. Dhillon et.

It is important to remember that an incident occurring will probably increase stress.

3 Ways to Reduce Human Error

This is likely to effect human reaction times and reliability at a critical time. The consequences of human errors being made range from serious accidents through to an event with no apparent lasting effect.

Note Editore

Serious accidents tend to be investigated whereas less serious incidents may not even be reported. It should be remembered that any incident has the potential to lead to something more serious. Knox [21] has represented the number of incidents compared to their seriousness as a pyramid. Time lost injury Non-disabling injury Property damage and financial loss. Unreported incidents or near misses.

Human Error or Design Error?

Of course the consequences of human error depends on who makes the error, and what error has been made. If an operator makes a mistake or slip, the consequence will either be that the equipment required will not operate or its operation will be delayed. Latent errors are much more important. Design errors may mean that the system will not respond to multiple failures or that a series of events will prevent a safe state from being reached.

Brazendale [16]. Design is also important on assuring that operator stress is kept to a minimum. Fabrication and maintenance errors will lead to poor reliability. Management errors can lead to a generally poor attitude to safety which will spread to all areas of the company. If we eliminate human error or at least reduce the consequences, we will have gone a long way to preventing accidents. To improve human reliability we need to understand what affects it. Unfortunately, operators are usually blamed for making errors that cause accidents.

Human's will always make errors, the reason that accidents happen is that latent errors are present in all systems which do not give the operator a chance, accidents are waiting to happen. These latent errors are the root cause of most accidents. The way to reduce human error and prevent accidents is through effective management such that safety is considered important by everyone involved. This is a system where some-sort of reward is offered for operating in a safe manner.


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  • This usually involves analysing accident rates. The problem with this is that people are effectively punished for the accidents they are involved in thus, rather than reducing accidents, the number of incidents reported is reduced. Here people are punished for the accidents they are involved in. Once again this is more likely to reduce reporting rather than necessarily the number of accidents.

    It also requires placing the blame on certain people. Although an operator might have been directly involved, the accident is more likely to have been caused by latent human errors which may not be so obvious and are out of their control. Of course it is usually the management of a company that would decide who to punish, blaming an operator is a lot easier than blaming a manager who is really more responsible by allowing latent errors to be present in the system.

    These will generally be regular checks made by independent assessors covering a wide range of safety features. They provide a good indication of the obvious problem areas and hazards. The problem is that they will generally be limited to a check list of items thus the problem of identifying critical factors may not be fulfilled. The timing of safety checks is important to maintain system reliability effectively. Lewis [9]. Thorough start-up checks and verifications have been shown to be more effective than inspections during normal operation.

    Human Error in Railways

    Here human manual control is replaced by automatic controls, generally electronic devices. These devices will do as instructed without the problems of human variability and unpredictabilty. The problem is that automation will generally make the system more complex and introduce more latent error, accidents waiting to happen. With a high amount of automation, the human has different tasks to perform.

    To err is human 2. Errors in practice 3. Latent errors and violations 4.

    Human reliability analysis 5. Human error modelling 6. Human error in event sequences Pt. Accident case studies 7. Organizational and management errors 8. Design errors 9. Maintenance errors Active errors in railway operations Active errors in aviation Violations Incident response errors Conclusions App. Train protection systems. Notes Formerly CIP. Includes bibliographical references and index. View online Borrow Buy Freely available Show 0 more links Set up My libraries How do I set up "My libraries"? Rockhampton Campus Library. Deakin University Library.

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